Snarky, jaded types may grumble that no real quality new music came out in 2013, but those cynics are just wrong. 2013 brought a slew of cool new acts, including one sure to pick up a couple trophies at next month's Grammy Awards.
And so, to silence all doubters, here are the year's brightest breakouts...
On the surface, it seems as though Haim came out of nowhere, topping charts and doing high-profile stints on Saturday Night Live and Jimmy Kimmel. Truth is, the three Haim sisters have been making music together since they were little, and it shows. Their debut full-length, Days Are Gone, features irresistible pop harmonies steeped in '70s rock and '80s pop that also alluringly beckon us into the future, and their stellar musicianship shines through.
Exuding confidence and sex, Palma Violets are cut from the same cloth as the Libertines and the Cribs ... which is to say swaggering, British indie guitar rock at its best.
The Australian duo's debut album, Howlin, combines some impressive songcraft with addictive dance rhythms that beg to be kept in heavy rotation. It could be considered a guilty pleasure if it weren't so damn good.
Laura Mvula's gorgeous, orchestral pop combines elements of jazz, classical and pop and showcases her uniquely smoky voice. The English singer's debut album, Sing to the Moon, suits any virtually mood. If you haven't heard of her yet, you will soon.
This powerhouse duo comprising singer-guitarist Lindsey Troy and drummer Julie Edwards met in a crocheting class, but you'd never know it listening to their straight-ahead blues-rock jams. Song titles like "Walk of Shame" and "Gonna Make My Own Money" speak to their girl-power aesthetic, and their electric live performances prove that these vixens can deliver.
Pure Heroine is a fitting name for Lorde's debut album, because these tunes are utterly addictive. The 17-year-old New Zealander crafts compelling, intelligent pop that belies her youth. Her hit song, "Royals," was everywhere this year and bordered on overexposing the singer at the start of her career, but her talent is undeniable.
Rhye's neo-soul stylings have doubtlessly soundtracked many romantic interludes. The music is intimate and sensuous – a pulsing bass line punctuated by horns and singer Mike Milosh's breathy, captivating vocals. Following an anonymous single release, it's gratifying to know who's underneath the sheets creating such beautiful bedroom music.
This Canadian duo exemplifies the old axiom that less is more. Frontman Devon Welsh's rich baritone stands out over synths, soft back beats and warm tones, expressing relatable emotions that go straight for the jugular.
Pure Bathing Culture
Listening to Pure Bathing Culture's debut album, Moon Tides, feels like stepping into a warm bath. The Portland band's mesmerizing, swirling melodies draw on '60s pop and '80s dreamscape auteurs like the Cocteau Twins, but are firmly grounded in an idyllic present.
Starting out as a humble creative venture from Dum Dum Girls' drummer Sandra Vu, SISU has metamorphosed into a formidable entity all its own. The band's debut album, Blood Tears, is as goth as its name implies, and conjures up sounds of '80s bands like Siouxsie and the Banshees and Lush with a modern twist for a whole new generation.